Wednesday, March 24, 2010

For Posteriority

I sometimes look back and can't remember whether such-and-so was the same with e-baby as it is with Jambuca. Well, I want to be sure and remember that I had days like this when e-baby was 3. A lot of them. This was my FB status the other day:

today, I said to her,
"OK, so is it TV that is so very, very bad, or is it going to your friend's house to play that is so very, very bad? Because only something very, very bad can make a person behave like this."

OK, so when Jambuca's 3, and I think, "Gosh, e-baby was never bratty like this!" smack me on he posterior with this blog post.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Farm Update, March 22

I haven't said much about the farm since we built it in February. I know I need to post some pictures, but you know, eventually. So, in February, we started snap pea seeds inside and sowed carrot and spinach seeds in the garden. The peas were ready to transplant after we got home from Ireland. The spinach seedlings started showing up after that, and finally, last weekend, we started seeing lots of teeny tiny carrot sproutlets. In the meantime, we started some squash, watermelon, artichoke and purple beans inside, and sowed 2 kinds of sunflowers outside.

My neighbor and her 3-year-old daughter helped out in the garden with transplanting, mulching, and starting seeds. It's nice having help, but more than that, it's nice having company while farming.

Last week, my strawberry plants arrived in the mail. They sat in my garage for a couple of days, so in a fit of willful productiveness, I came home from work Friday evening, knowing that SNG wouldn't be home for 3 more hours (he rode his bike that day), and took the kids out back while I planted EIGHTY strawberry plants. E-baby was easy enough to watch after- she just goes into the gazebo and tells fairy tales to the play-doh. Jambuca is walking pretty well now, so I could let him wander inside the fenced enclosure of the farm. But it wasn't so easy to stop him from eating much, dirt, sticks, seedlings, and pretty much everything else. I eventually got him interested in harvesting the pinwheels we keep in the corners of the raised beds (they act like scarecrows for the birds). So as I worked, Jambuca toddled around with 2 fistfuls of pinwheel sticks, shaking them like maracas.

Saturday and Sunday we sowed more beans-- some in the strawberry beds and some in the front yard. With what we've put in the ground so far, I've got about 140 sq ft of the farm planted and about 175 sq ft left to plant later. I plan to still inter-plant some of the areas and will be moving crops out and new ones in throughout the summer. We'll sure have plenty of vegetables this summer! If half of the plants work out, it should be more than we can eat.

Today 25 asparagus roots arrived in the mail. They are perennial, so they'll occupy one of the 4x14 beds permanently. There are some things that should be planted with asparagus to amend the soil and keeps bugs at bay, but I can't remember what. Maybe it was tomatoes? Or is it that tomatoes should never be with asparagus? Or was it onions? Or should onions never go with asparagus? Oh, I'll have some reading to do.

I don't have any pictures of the garden, but I do have some cute pictures of the kiddos. Here you go!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jambuca's First Steps

Austin's First Steps
Originally uploaded by catandtony318
Jambuca started walking today! In this video he starts out crying because I won't pick him up, and it mixes with laughter as he realizes he's doing it himself.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ireland trip, Day 10: Last Day of Vacation

(*I wrote this before we left but published it after we got home-- we are back in the US now! and- you'll notice my COMMENTS ARE BACK!!!! THANK YOU to my cousin PartnerInCrime for spending her Sunday afternoon being my IT help desk consultant!!! You are a brave woman, PIC.)

The faeries must have known we were leaving soon.
They are trying to lure us back.

I wanted to make our last day in Ireland special for e-baby, since she's been such a good sport about doing all the things we've wanted to do, and we had only seen one (pretty crappy) playground this whole time. The "hop on-hop off" bus loop passes by our apartment and goes past the zoo, so I figured it would be a treat for her.
As we ate breakfast, we heard horse hooves outside the apartment and saw a few hairy ponies being led away. Figured they were getting ready to pull carriages around town for tourists. Later, we saw lots more. On our way out of the apartment, the manager told us it was the day of the horse market, held the first Sunday of each month. We went. It was crowded for many blocks with horses and handlers. I've never seen so many horses in one place, and not a single quarter horse, Palomino, Pinto, or any others that I'm accustomed to. Most of these were smaller, most were a stockier build, and all of them had long, shaggy, beautiful coats.
After the equine detour, we took the bus to the zoo, and along the way saw all the major landmarks of Dublin including the Guinness brewery, the Molly Malone statue, Dublin castle, Cristchurch and St Patrick's cathedrals, sites of many uprisings, hangings, imprisonments, rallies, etc. At our stop we took a long walk through Phoenix park and Granny, e-baby and I hit the zoo while my mom went to a gallery to locate a painting that some friends of hers wanted to get information about.
The zoo was, well, a zoo, but it was heaven for e-baby. She played in playgrounds and saw monkeys, rode on a wooden zebra, saw giraffes and rhinos, and ran around like a crazy nut. She was ready to go when it was time to go, tired as she was.
We headed back to the apartment for some R and R, had a quiet dinner at the Czech pub across the river, and now it's time to pack.
I plan to fill in all of these Ireland posts with photos soon.

Lessons learned:

I love it here and plan to come back.
We should have skipped Cork and just gone straight to Galway.
It would be worthwhile to return to western Ireland in the summertime. And stay for, like, a month.
We 4 ladies are so well-suited to travel together that I'm already thinking about our next trip together.
Dublin is a history buff's dream come true, but Galway is faerie territory.

Ireland Trivia!

Too bad my comments are not working, because I learned a nifty factoid about Ireland yesterday on the historical walking tour.

Ireland is the world's top producer of _____, which accounts for 3% of the GNP.

hint 1: it's a manufactured good.

hint 2: it's not alcohol.

hint 3: the locals tell you it's entirely for export.

Can you guess? Answer coming soon.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ireland trip, days 8 and 9: Dublin

Well, Friday wasn't really worth reporting... went to work, taught all day, love my job, you know. After class, I rejoined Tuti, Granny, and e-baby back at the apartment and we had a leisurely dinner in. I needed the rest, since I have caught another cold, and this one is entirely in my ears. OUCH! I am half deaf (more than normal, heh) and the pressure inside my ears makes me wonder whether I'll have a ruptured eardrum. I hope not, but we fly home Monday morning so I'm a little nervous.

This morning was my first full day to really see Dublin, and I've been itching to do the historical walking tour of Dublin ever since I read about it in October. It did not disappoint. The guide was a history graduate of Trinity college and he clearly loves his job. He told us at the beginning that this was less of a tour and more of an attempt to squeeze 3000 years of history into 2 hours, an ambitious goal. While I already knew the large moving parts of Irish history, the tour filled in a lot of the gaps I had, and cleared up a lot of the confusion I've had over the Catholic/Protestant wars over the centuries.

After the tour we had lunch at the market in Temple Bar, and split up: Tuti took e-baby home for a nap, Granny went in search of tickets to a performance of Mozart's Requiem at St Patrick's cathedral, and I wandered Temple Bar and bought way too many souvenirs.

Dublin's a fine city, but it's no Galway. The old parts of town have beautiful architecture. It's the off season now, and the streets are so crowded with people that it isn't comfortable. I imagine that in the high season, it's horrible.

Tomorrow's our last day here. I'm not sure what I want to do. It's a SUnday so lot sof places will be closed. If the weather's nice, I'll look for a playground so that e-baby can have a nice final day of vacation.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Update: Pictures!

I finally had a stable internet connection for posting pictures from the trip. HERE THEY ARE. They are arranged by location, with Chicago (on the way there), Cork City, Galway, and Aran Islands being the chronology, if you wanted to keep them in order.

It's just a big camera dumpsite, so there will be some you don't care about seeing, but flik through and ejoy what you like!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ireland Trip, days 6 and 7: to Dublin and to Work

Yesterday I woke up early to buy some dramamine to try and relieve this dizziness I've had, and then we took the train to Dublin. Still clear skies, but Heaven Almighty it was COLD. I don't know how Dublin elt so much colder than Galway, but it was. Since I planned to stay at a hotel near the conference while the others stayed at an apartment in the city center, I went along to check into the apt and walk around awhile.

Dublin doesn't have the same WOW factor that Galway has, but there's history oozing from the cracks and there's music in the air and I love it here. Even if it's a little bit seedy, that doesn't disqualify a city from greatness in my book.

Our hosts for the conference took my colleague and me out to dinner last night, and today I taught all day. Great class, great students, lots of lively discussions, I love my job.

Now I am pooped. There isn't much more to say, so I'll bug out here. Tonight I sleep at the hotel on my own again, teach tomorrow, and then afterwards I'll head downtown to join the ladies for the rest of the trip.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ireland Trip, days 5 and 6: Galway and Aran Islands

We missed the ferry to the Aran Islands on Monday, so instead we spent the day shopping (shucky-darn). There is a pedestrian quarter near Eyre Square that has about lots of little shops and boutiques; some are tchotchkes and souvenirs, but there are also music stores, art shops, sweater shops (we are in the land of cableknit wool sweaters), cafes, bakeries, shoe stores, you get the idea. We also had our first pub lunch at a place that had little living areas straight from the early 70s instead of regular seating. We sat in a nook with a couple of couches and overstuffed armchairs, a big coffee table, and canonical vintage mustard, harvest orange, and avocado colored flowery wallpaper. The food was good, Granny had a pint of Southwick ale, and it was hard to leave when we were finished. Then we took a leisurely walk along the canals and shore of the bay to the town of Salt Hill for some tea. We fed about 30 swans on the way back. I have pictures- it was madness.

Dinner was a low-key broccoli and sirloin steaks.

Tuesday, we got up extra early so we could catch the ferry to the Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands and the very place that the opening sequence from the show Father Ted was flimed. The series' location, fictitious Craggy Island, was apparently based on a conglomeration of the three Aran Islands. And let me tell you-- the flyover scenes opening Father Ted? It looks Exactly Like That in person. There are over 7000 miles of stone fences (hand-built walls). People have lived on the island for literally thousands of years, and there is a ring fort dating back over 3000 years. There are actually 4 fort ruins, but I on;y walked around one of them. There is no handrail at the edge of the sheer cliff that drops hundreds of meters to the water below. It's windy up there. I am so glad e-baby stayed behind at the visitor center for that part of the visit.

We saw the world's smallest church from a distance-- it's on a hilltop an hour's walk from the road-- it is only 6 feet wide. That was nifty. Many of the houses still have thatched rooves. Our tour guide, Patrick Flaherty (one of probably 50 Patrick Flaherties on the islandof only 800 people) can count his family back seven generations on Inis Mor. Most people there go back at least as far.

The islands are also the origin of those cableknit fisherman's sweaters, usually cream-colored with such intricate hand-knit patterns-- you've seen them. As you might guess, we spent the better part of an hour in the large sweater shop and musuem. The store had a special for UPS Worldwide shipping flat-rate of 25 Euros-- any amount. Hee!

In other news, I've had vertigo since we arrived in Ireland and it's getting worse- now I'm just plain dizzy and seasick most of the time. I'm more than a little sick of it and hope that it goes away now that I have some dramamine-equivalent.

In other, other news-- How on earth have we managed to be in Ireland in winter for 6 days and never been rained out???? Charmed lives???? (Knock on wood)

Today we head for Dublin. More later!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ireland Trip, day 4: From Cork to Galway

Sunday morning we had a pretty boring morning of breakfast and packing, but e-baby did make a few new friends with a family visiting from Dublin. They had 2 boys, about 2 and 4 years old, who shared a common interest in chicken farming with e-baby. They spent lots of time talking to and feeding the hens while the rest of us got packed up.

We caught the 11:25 bus and had lunch in Limerick. The ride through that part of the country was dotted with the ruins of so many castles that I am pretty sure that at one time in Ireland, all your neighbors had castles. None were functional as anything but very ornate planters, but they were certainly impressive. The scenery was gorgeous, with stocky long-haired black and white horses, dairy cattle and sheep grazing, sometimes in the same pastures.

Arriving in Galway, we found a park with a playground on the way to the hotel, which was only a couple of blocks up the road. Our apartment is really slick, totally IKEA. I have pictures that I'll post on Flickr soon. Mom and I knocked over a Tesco's for groceries while Granny and e-baby played Princesses at the apaprtment (she has all her Disney princess action figures with her). Dinner was lamb, carrots and parsnips, and raspberry meringues. Mmmmmm.

We have 2 balconies-- one overlooking the bay and mountains. We see the spires of several medieval-looking churches reaching up between the row houses and their ceramic chimneys. It is so nice here that I really wish we'd skipped Cork and come straight to Galway.

Today we're going to try to catch a boat to the Aran Islands. The weather continues to be uncharacteristically sunny and dry.